Qualifying for the pole of a NASCAR Cup Series race can’t get much closer than what we saw Saturday at Auto Club Speedway. Clint Bowyer grabbed his fourth-career pole, but by nearly the narrowest of margins, as Jimmie Johnson just missed out on a pole at his home track in his final full-time racing season.
Bowyer was elated to grab the pole on a day, where the track was very slick.
“I was freaking out, actually that the sun kept coming out,” Bowyer said. “You know the track is building temperature. You can see it in the SMT data, everybody kept getting looser and looser in [turn] 1 and [turn] 2.”
Bowyer’s pole winning lap was 179.614 mph, which equates to 40.086 sec. Johnson was just seven-one-thousandths of a second off of the pole winning lap-time.
Johnson lost the pole by taking a little wider exit off of the final turn than Bowyer, but still, he’s excited to have such a good start to what could be his final start at Auto Club Speedway.
“Super special,” said Johnson. “I wish we were one spot further ahead, and clearly off of turn four there, I ran distance to the start finish. Such a fine balance to understand how much you can open the wheel and let the engine run. Clearly I did to much.”
Alex Bowman, who has had the car to beat all weekend will start third on Sunday.
Kurt Busch will roll from fourth, after losing his car chief earlier in the day when his car failed inspection twice.
Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five fastest in the session.
Ryan Preece, who clicked off the 20th-best lap in the session, will drop to the rear on Sunday after his team made an engine change on Saturday.
Martin Truex Jr. did not get to take a qualifying lap after his car failed inspection three times on Saturday, he will start from the rear of the field on Sunday after his car passed inspection on the fourth attempt.
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.